Castus fruit bars – what messages do they emit? A qualitative study of the consumer’s decoding process of Castus fruit bars’ packaging compared to the actual contents. Castus is a Danish producer of processed dried fruit bars. Castus intends these fruit bars to be consumed as a between-meals snack or as a healthy addition to a child's packed lunch. However, despite Castus' portrayal of seven different healthy varieties of fruit bars, the primary ingredient of each variety is date, which has among the highest sugar contents of all dried fruits, and some fruit bars contain a low amount of the fruit advertised on the packaging and used as a diversifying characteristic. This thesis focuses on the contradictions in promoting a product as a healthy between-meals snack when in fact the level of sugar is higher than in some chocolate snack bars, and also in associating a product with a quality of which it contains very small amounts. The problem statement consists of one main research question and three supporting questions with the intention of identifying the target groups' decoding and interpretation processes. The thesis takes into consideration the opinions of children as the target consumers, and parents as the purchasers, as well as how each group decodes the messages transmitted through the product's packaging and positioning. To answer the problem statement, three focus groups and two research interviews were conducted. Two focus groups consisted of ten parents in total, all with children aged six to ten, and the last focus group consisted of children aged six to ten. The groups were asked to share their opinions about Castus' fruit bars, discussing their understanding of a healthy snack and a between-meals snack, and were additionally asked to compare the fruit bars to substitute products such as chocolate and muesli bars. Furthermore, two research interviews with a dietician provide a professional outlook on the fruit bars, their packaging and their contents, in relation to the substitutes. The findings show that seven out of the ten parents questioned did not interpret Castus' fruit bars as a healthy between-meals snack for their children. Rather, they considered it a quick after school snack or to keep energy levels high. Two parents felt misled by the packaging, and one of whom felt misled as her understanding of a fruit-based product, with packaging signalling a healthy choice, conflicted with one which contained a high level of sugar and very little of the advertised fruit. The children were able to recognise Castus' fruit bars from a range of similar products by decoding signals such as colours and pictures on the packaging with their former experience with fruit bars and like products. They agreed that the fruit bars constitute a healthy snack, however, they were not their first choice of an addition to their packed lunch. Due to the high sugar content and low nutritional value of a single bar, the dietician recommended that the fruit bars be given as a snack once in a while and not as a regular between-meals snack. However, the fruit bars contain no artificial additives, so the product is clean, and parents need not be afraid of giving their children a fruit bar once in a while. The aim of this thesis was not to determine whether or not Castus is guilty of misleading its customers. Had the focus group participants and dietician been able to interpret and decode the packaging in the same way, there would be no question about the positioning of the product and the decoding of its packaging. However, the convoluted messages derived from Castus' positioning and packaging allude to a problem in the processes involved in decoding the products' packaging and Castus' product positioning.
|Educations||MA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||166|